It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Road Trip" is mellow and dirty, which is the wrong combination. It's sweet when it should be raunchy, or vice versa, and the result is a movie that seems uneasy with itself. It wants to be evil, really it does, but every so often its better nature takes over, and it throws in sweetness right there in the middle of the dirty stuff and the nudity. We feel unkind watching it. We'd enjoy the nudity more if it were ribald and cheerful, but it feels obligatory, as if the actresses were instructed to disrobe every five minutes in a movie that's only really interested in sex for commercial reasons.
Nude scenes should be inspired by the libido, not the box office. That's why I object to the phrase "gratuitous nudity." In a movie like this, the only nudity worth having is gratuitous. If it's there for reasons that are clankingly commercial, you feel sorry for the actresses, which is not the point.
The plot, which is narrated by MTV personality Tom Green in his first film role, is a lame-brained contrivance. It follows a frat boy named Josh (Breckin Meyer), who has been dating Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard of TV's "Clueless") ever since high school. Now he's a student at Ithaca University in New York, and she has decided she needs room to grow, or concentrate on her major, or something, and she enrolls at the University of Austin, which is not as far from Ithaca as you can get, but might as well be.
Josh and Tiff keep in touch by phone, but Josh senses her attention waning, and then there's a period when she doesn't answer the phone. Meanwhile, Josh has been flirting with a campus sexpot named Beth (Amy Smart), and one night she seduces him and they make a video of themselves having sex, perhaps because they have seen the same thing done in "American Pie," or perhaps because the makers of "Road Trip" are ripping off "American Pie," which is probably more likely.